The Akron school board approved plans for a new “I Promise school” in coordination with the LeBron James Family Foundation that will serve third- and fourth-graders identified as “at risk” of failing to graduate high school, according to the Associated Press. The school is scheduled to open next fall.
The “I Promise” school will open its doors well before other district schools and feature longer school days in the hopes of fulfilling the program’s pledge to keep kids in school, according to the AP.
James’ SpringHill Entertainment company has also partnered with documentarian Morgan Spurlock’s Warrior Poets to follow the launch of Akron’s newest public school, according to Variety magazine.
“Being able to create this school to specifically meet the needs of these kids and their families means everything to me,” James told Variety. “There are so many kids and families struggling, and we want this school to be a safe, positive place that helps them stay on the right track to earning their educations. Having SpringHill Entertainment and an amazing filmmaker like Morgan Spurlock here to document this process is huge.”
LeBron’s foundation partnered with the University of Akron in August 2015 to provide four-year scholarships for each of the estimated 1,1100 students who fulfilled their promise to the program of graduating high school — an initiative that would resulted in a commitment of up to $41.8 million.
The Akron City School District reported a four-year graduation rate of 74.7 percent last year, well below the national rate of 82.3 percent, and received an F grade from the Ohio Department of Education.
In October 2016, James extended his foundation’s pledge to ensure Akron students graduate college as well, announcing the “I Promise Institute Bureau,” an “around the-clock” mentoring and tutoring program housed in the university’s football stadium, coordinated by a renowned board of trustees.
The original “I Promise” students are now high school freshmen and slated to start college in 2021. Next year’s third-grade class at the new public school would graduate high school in 2028, which presumably means the program will run well after James retires from the NBA. (That is, if he ever retires.) By then, LeBron James Jr. could be in the league, and his father might own the Cavaliers.
So, if you were still skeptical about athlete activism after James opened the ESPYs last summer with a vow to fight social injustice at the grassroots level, “go back to our communities, invest our time, our resources, help rebuild them, help strengthen them, help change them,” it’s time to give him his due.
– – – – – – –